Monday, April 30, 2012

Full to Grateful

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Thank you to all of your sweet and encouraging comments on my last post.  10 years, wow, when I think about it, it feels like just the other day, but also that I have grown a thousands times over since then.  Life with these three monsters doesn’t allow me a lot of time to dwell in the past or wallow in my sorrows of regret.  I know I carry them, they are in my heart, but my day to day life is wonderful.  I have grown into myself in the past ten years.  I know where I was and how I got to this place of happiness. 

Life is full.  My days are busy.  And my head hits the pillow with exhaustion.

There are babies to feed.  Mangos, crushed peas, carrots, and of course yummy fingers to suck when our bellies feel full.

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There are big blue eyes that look at you like you are the most important person on the planet.  And for them I am grateful.  Full and grateful, that should be my mantra these days.

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We keep ourselves busy at home.  Trips out back to play in the sandbox have become a daily ritual.  The sun has been shining, with just the right amount of coolness in the air.  You couldn’t ask for a more perfect spring.  You will also find us out back with the sidewalk chalk.  every. day.

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drawing rainbows, stars, suns, and of course lots and lots of lines… we are very good at lines.

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Then you might find us in the alley having some scooter races.  I decided that I couldn’t listen to them ride in the house for one more second, and I banished the scooters to the garage.  If you have a little one, you have to get a plasma car.  They are so much easier than bikes and trikes and scooters.  It is one of the few toys that both children can play with together.  We love them!!

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Then the littlest peanut joins us after her nap for snacks on the deck and bubble blowing.  She is always up for watching the big kids play.  If the weather and my crew cooperate we “attempt” a trip to the play ground a few times a week.  Three at the playground can be challenging.  Luckily I live in a great neighborhood where there is usually someone to lend you a hand or watch a child if you need it.  For example, baby in an uncomfortable position in the swing, big brother wanting to push her, and toddler wandering around in the mulch.  The play ground is not for the faint of heart.  You must be on your ‘A game’ to make down and back alive.  Someone is usually always crying on the way home.

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Now don’t be fooled.  There is still always time for a good old Dora marathon, in your diaper of course.  She is now the new favorite.  Move over Minnie Mouse.

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I hope your days are just as full!  Because sometimes I am just plain worn out.  Gracie agrees.IMG_0287

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Choosing to Live

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Sometimes we feel like there isn’t a lot that we have a choice on in life.  The list can be quite limited actually.  Our choices may be whittled down to a few things like what college we attend, what sport or activity we prefer to play or not play, or who we choose to spend our life with.

We don’t choose the family we are born into, the circumstances for which we are raised, or the events that occur while we are trying to make our way through this amazing and often trying life.  But, one of the most profound things my father said after my accident was that I had a choice. 

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I thought he must be crazy.  I felt like LIFE had chewed me up and spit me out.  And I had been one of the other victims left on the side of the road that night.  Even though my physical body had stood up from that kneeled position and walked on.  My insides were slowly dying.  My friends and family watched me as weeks slipped by into months and I was having trouble getting out of bed, keeping things organized in my brain, and controlling the mounds of tears that would well up in a moments notice. 

All I did was sleep.  My parents didn’t see a lot of this because I was living with friends and working full time as a first grade teacher.  I would work all day, come home and sleep, eat a bowl of cereal, and sleep until my alarm went off again the next morning.  It was like I couldn’t wake up.  I couldn’t take a deep breath.  If I did, it would hurt too much.  If I stayed awake too long the tears would come, the memories would invade, and my insides would churn.  So I slept.  When you are depressed sleeping can be an escape.  When you awake it can be another blow to the heart.  You sleep because of sadness, but when you awaken you realize that everything you were trying to forget really happened.  Then you have to re-remember it all in the morning and try to will yourself to be a person the next day.  This continued for weeks, maybe months, I’m really not sure. 

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Sure I went to work.  I know I read books to the kids, I may have even laughed, smiled and even acted like a normal person.  I felt like just getting through the day was all I could handle.  I would come home after school and slide my weary body under the covers and sleep and forget everything.  Time, counseling, meeting Chris, slowly but surely I started to come out of my sleep induced sadness. 

Through all of this my parents were there for me.  One day my Dad said, “Two people could have died that night.  But, you didn’t.  And now you have to make a CHOICE to live.”

I can say that 10 years later I have made good on that statement Dad.  I chose to live.  I chose to love.  I chose to believe in the good that exists.  I wish I could visit that crying girl, who was 22 years old and didn’t see a way out of the torment and the sadness.  I would talk to her, hug her, and tell her that it was going to be alright.  I would tell her about the joy, the fulfillment that will come her way.  The babies that will grow inside her belly.  The sweet ones that will move and summersault inside her.  And with every flutter remind her that there is good in choosing to live.  There is a purpose, and they are right down the hallway at night.  I would tell her that she would get to gather that purpose up in their warm pajamas and rock them to sleep.  Listen to their squishy pacis and smell their sweet baby hair each and every night.  I would tell her that it will all be ok in the end.  Just a different ok that she might have pictured.

Chris opened my heart to love again, and Bradley, Ellie, and Grace filled in the gaping holes that had been ripped apart years ago.  I was changed that day.  I was altered in some strange way.  Even though there weren’t any markings on me, I was forever different.  I will carry a piece of me that night everywhere I go.

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We will all face things in our lives.  I know that there will probably be more pits and valleys that I will encounter on this journey.  But I now know 10 years later that there are also choices.  There is the way we live during and after these valleys that will define us.  Will we use them for good?  Will we grow from them?  Will we snuggle up our teenagers one day and tell them the stories that formed us?  I want to share my story with my babies when they are ready to hear it.  I want them to know that there are sad and scary things that can happen in life.  But there is also beauty.  There is forgiveness.  There is a choice about how we handle the sad and the scary. 

10 years later and I take a deep breath and know that I made a choice to live.  And live I did.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Hop, Hop, Hop

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I know I am a day late and a dollar short with all of my posts…Easter can’t go unmentioned this year though!  Especially when you get cute photos of your children in matching dresses and pink button up shirts.

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The cuteness is overflowing…the sweet smiles, the hair bows, the super duper chubby baby legs covered in little baby tights! I can’t stand it!!  Easter weekend we did a little bit of this…

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egg dying with the whole family!  Ellie really got into it and Bradley was the expert!

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It is so cool that they can really do the same activity together and have a good time!  She is just growing up before our eyes, and wants to be just like her big brother!

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After a major round of eye dying the Easter bunny left quite a surprise for us when we came downstairs!!  Two new chairs, a little pink one perfect for my book reader and a bean bag chair for the big boy! 

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He also left the kids “Jellycat” stuffed animals, a bunny and a Hershey dog!  They are both the new favorites around this house.  Ellie drags her little bunny around by the ear wherever she goes.  After a major Easter Egg hunt around the house we went over to Gigi and Pop Pop’s house for brunch and a trip on the boat!  It was gorgeous weather, perfect for playing outside!  Here are some of my favorite pictures by the dock.  Bradley wasn’t being very agreeable, so I cut him out of the photos.

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Me and Ellie, she is actually sitting still in my lap, it is a miracle!  this little girl doesn’t sit still for two seconds!

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My mom and dad and Ellie by the lake, such a perfect backdrop.  The next photo is what it is REALLY like to try to get a family photo of all of us looking at the camera. just. isn’t. happening. negotiating with a two year old, bradley complaining about the sun, and Gracie is chomping on her Easter dress.

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After we came home and everyone had a nap, I brought Grace down and attempted a little mini-photo shoot session with her.  Her eyes are just sparkling and really are staying blue.  I am a little hopeful that she might be my one blue eyed child!

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Bradley attempting to get a smile, god he is such a great big brother.  I really can’t express the sweetness and gentleness he has for these two little girls.  He was the first one to really make her laugh and she looks up at him like the world could stop turning just as long as he was paying attention to her.  love.

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By the end she was done with her photo shoot too and kept squirming down in the chair.  I love this one with her little sweet lips and her face all scrunched up.  What a blessed holiday it was.  Complete with cute little girls, lots of jelly beans, and little boys who love their sisters.  I couldn’t have asked for a better day.

I am finally feeling more caught up on my blog, and I am hoping to get more regular about my posting.  I miss my chance to write and talk about this whole motherhood gig.  I guess I have just been exhausted lately, and just want to curl into bed at night.  More coming soon…

Monday, April 16, 2012

Photo Sessions

just as the title implies….this post is packed to the rim with LOTS of photos!  I have been trying to take lots of pictures lately.  We have had a bunch of family gatherings between Ellie’s birthday and Easter in the past few weeks.  I have tried to get the family together, the grandparents, the cousins, etc for photos.  It is very rare that we are all dressed in something nice, I have had a shower, and everyone looks at the camera! 

I think my MOST favorite photo from the past few weeks has to be my parents on our porch swing with ALL of their grandbabies. 

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I mean, besides Gracie looking completely terrified and gripping the swing chain with all of her might, you couldn’t get a better photo!  I love the way my parents are laughing at each other, almost surprised by the craziness around them.  I hope when I am my parents age, I will be surrounded with lots of adorable children who are laughing and smiling.  Life is good!

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Sammy’s expression in this one just cracks me up!  Photo sessions probably do seem like torture to almost five year old little boys.

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I also snapped some photos of my sister Lindsay, Tim and sweet Sammy on the porch swing together.  Sammy wasn’t into our photo session at first, but then he warmed up!

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My mom and dad with “the girls.”  They were trying to get Ellie to say that she was two years old!

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The most cooperative one…Gracie of course!  She doesn’t have a lot of say in the matter.  Little did I know that she was working on her first tooth through all of these photos.  Poor thing!  She didn’t even make a peep!  This is our attempt at a family photo, maybe next time?

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I guess this is real life though, Bradley is annoyed with all of the picture taking, Ellie wouldn’t sit still if her life depended on it and there were three people trying to get Gracie to look at the camera and she is busy looking at her sister.  This is my life!

Both of the Grandparent shots turned out great though!  Ellie was asleep for this one, but I love Bradley’s sweet smile and Gracie looking right at the camera when Grandma came to visit!

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Well, I finally feel like I am getting a bit more caught up on my blogging!  I still have a few “deep thoughts” posts to pour into, but for now photo sessions and family pictures are my priority.  Love, Clare

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Friendship

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There is nothing like a good friend.  Even when you haven’t visited or talked in a while they are there to listen and pick right back up where you left off.  Lori and I have been friends since she rushed Kappa Delta in 1999…wow that sounds like a long time ago now.  Just a short 13 years later and we both had Ellie and Anna just two weeks apart.  You can tell by the pictures that they think it is pretty awesome too that their mommies are still best friends!!

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Lori was spending the weekend with family close by and came to our house for an afternoon visit.  Sorry for the lovely outfit, I had gone out for a morning run…

Anyway, Lori was diagnosed with thyroid cancer last fall, just a few weeks before I delivered Grace.  She had to undergo surgery and a radioactive iodine treatment.  I hate that we were so far away from each other, and I had my hands full with Grace during all of this!  But, with a  lot of texts, emails, letters and prayers Lori just received the good news that she is cancer free!  We did a little cheer here at our house when we got the news!!

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I know these past 9 months have been rocky and challenging Lori, but now you can breath a sigh of relief.  Let alone you have a little girl that needs you and will get many, many more wonderful years with her mama!!

There are so many wonderful memories in my life that you were a part of, and I am looking forward to many more to come!!  I love you friend!! clare

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Baby Winn

Man I am way, way behind on my blogging!!  I am lucky when I squeeze out two blog posts a week, but I really have so much stuff I am dying to share.  There is Easter, photo shoots, visits with old friends, but most importantly the addition of this little guy to our family….

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Isn’t he amazing?!!!  I can’t believe this little bundle has been here for TWO weeks already!  You may remember  these special people…

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The sweet Aunt Kim and Uncle Adam, well they had their first baby two weeks ago.  He didn’t just arrive any old day either, he decided to arrive on Chris’ 34th birthday!!  Kim, Chris, and Shawn lost their father six years ago this year.  I know that Brad was watching down as his little girl delivered her first born son 34 years and ONE hour before his first born son was born. 

Isn’t that just amazing?!  It still gives me the goose bumps!

I was lucky enough to pop up to meet him a few days after he was born.

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Winn Byers, Four Days Young, isn’t life amazing?!?!! 

I could eat him up already!!  Welcome to the world sweet baby Winn, Chris and I just can’t wait to spoil you rotten, play with you until you are exhausted, and then of course send you back home to your parents!  I think being an aunt is just so special, and I am especially thankful that it isn’t me this time with a newborn.  I just got to enjoy his brand new little newborness and sweet little face, but I didn’t have to feed him 12 times a day….that is awesome stuff too! 

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We love you Little Winn!  You are one lucky fellow and have two awesome parents!! xoxo 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Then She Giggled

Usually I get all weepy when we start having the first milestones.  In the past two weeks we have had, the first tooth, the first bites of food, but then this week she had the first set of “giggles.”  I can’t handle all of the changes all within a few weeks!! 

My last little one is growing up right before my eyes.  There is just something about the first real giggles, they are truly something special.  The first tooth is exciting, but it usually involves a fussy baby, lots of spit, and chewing on everything in sight.  But, there is nothing but happiness when you hear the first giggles.

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I heard them for the first time this week.  I had the leftovers of this awful cold and I sneezed  while I was changing Grace’s diaper.  Well, she got really tickled and started giggling.  She laughed and laughed while I fake sneezed over and over again.  Then I took a shower while she was playing on the floor, and as I emerged from the shower I leaned over her and did another one of my now famous sneezes.  She just looked at me like, “really lady, that is all you’ve got?  I don’t think that is amusing at all.”  I tried to show Chris when he got home from work and she wouldn’t do it again.  Then HE gave me the look, “really lady, you got her to giggle by fake sneezing.”  I really did people! 

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Anyway, Bradley started playing peek-a-boo with her tonight and she giggled over and over again.  If you haven’t listened to a baby’s first giggles in a while, this video will make you smile from ear to ear.  I jumped and started filming.  I really need to get coordinated with my filming because half of the video I took sideways and the other half up and down…sorry!  It will rotate while you are watching it!

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Happy Giggling Monday!!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

First Bites

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It is about that time again…wasn’t I just doing this with another baby last year??  I guess it was September of 2010, but it does just feel like a blink of an eye and I was feeding this little girlie for the first time…

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I can see how when you have multiple children the major life events just melt together into one big, awesome memory.  In 30 years when they are having their own children, I want to remember that I did a one point feed them one mushy spoonful at a time. 

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Yep, that’s me…nasty hair, in my work out clothes deciding that today was the day for her first bite of food.  I guess I didn’t prepare very well for the photo shoot?!  Grace was into it though…

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Grace was all sorts of smiles and coos and just plain happiness!  She is truly the sweetest, most easy going baby I have had!  And just to throw in some “realness” this is what Ellie was doing during Grace’s first meal…

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walking around in her diaper and her brother’s keens on the wrong feet.  I guess she wasn’t prepared for the photo shoot, too! 

I love my little family, every day is kept interesting with these three!